Social Promotion of Students Does Not Help Anyone

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For many years, within public education, there have been far too many students who were given a passing grade in a class, advanced to the next grade level in school, or even given a high school diploma when these designations of achievement were falsely made and undeservedly granted. Teachers and administrators seem to be of the mindset that they have so many students they are responsible for that the more kids that they can quickly and expeditiously move up and out, the better. It is easier to get rid of someone than to redo what did not adequately take place to begin with. Passing kids along to the next level, even when they have failed to master what was being taught, and what should have been required to receive a passing grade and/or to meet requirements for promotion, is convenient. Another factor is the emphasis that has been and is being placed by many educators on the amorphous concept of self-esteem. Flunking or holding back a student a year would, it is argued, hurt the student's self-esteem. In some cases, perhaps schools should consider alternative schools and courses for those who simply don't have the talent and ability to successful understand and complete certain subject areas. Perhaps many educators should be doing a better job of helping students capitalize on their strengths, and not weighing them down with their weaknesses. But it seems to me that the failure of our society in terms of crime, worsening social inequality, hatred and dishonesty on the part of many in their attitudes toward their fellow citizens and human beings, and rigid ideas about the organization and management of business all relate to some extent through telling people that they learned what they were supposed to have learned, when, in reality, this is a lie. It may seem like a potential abuse of power on the part of a teacher to give a student a final grade of F. It seems to me that it may in some instances an equal abuse of power to try and deny that the instruction provided did not accomplish what it was supposed to have accomplished, for whatever reason or reasons. Growing up poor may cause many young people to feel as if they cannot accomplish things academically. But telling kids, including those from middle class families that they are better than they actually are in terms of their progress in a class or in their entire academic career seems to be just as potentially damaging to the child, and ultimately, to sociey.

A recently released international, comparative study of education once again find that American students are academically behind those from several or even many other countries. This study was mentioned on the PBS program, The Nightly Business Report.

Teachers should do everything possible to help children learn the required and necessary components of the curriculum. Obviously, they should not fail students for subjective reasons. Students don't all have to be geniuses, but there should be some expectation that the student learned enough to justify the awarding of a passing grade or in schools which don't use letter grades, the equivalent thereof. Knowing how to reach a student who is having difficulty before the semester is over is partly why teaches are trained in pedagogy.

According to two former teachers from my state, there are a sizeable number of practicing teachers who are leaving the profession. Inadequate salaries, parents who are too ignorant and disrespectful of education to stress the need for the child to behave appropriately in the classroom and not be disruptive or disrespectful of the teacher and the other students, a lack of support with classroom discipline from school administrators, and disrespect of teachers by state politicians and education superintendents, who imply that inadequate progress and insufficient standardized test scores are completely the fault of the teacher, ignoring outside factors that are beyond the teacher' control are the reasons cited for teachers who leave education. It seems that at least in my state, quite a number of education graduates never even go into teaching. The admission standards for schools of education especially on the undergraduate level have been cited as being too easy. The salary, training, and degree of recognition and respect for teachers in some foreign countries such as Denmark or Sweden appear to higher than in the U.S. Some school districts have tried merit pay for teachers who get good results and in a few cases have told students that if they maintain a certain grade point average, they will receive either some cash or a scholarship to help them pay for college, probably at a state institution. Many in education do not believe in paying teachers or students for success, because it narrows the focus of learning to pecuniary motivation.

In my experience, in listening to people talk in person when conducting daily business or in calling radio talk shows, I find that many people have poor verbal communication skills. Sometimes, people want something which they don't specify until the last minute, when the task is just about completed. People sometimes get angry because you couldn't read their mind. I wonder to what extent this could be frustration built up over the years from disappointment in how they were taught in school. Emotional control and patience are necessary parts of being a mature adult, in acting professionally, and in being a good citizen. A person needs to have patience to sit down and concentrate on reading a book or other text. This is lacking in many Americans. I believe that there is such as thing in as simulated ADD, people who act as if they have a poor attention span when neurologically, there is nothing wrong with them, medically. Their behavior is caused by inadequate stimulation and, for lack of a better word, educational discipline from both parents and teachers. The job done by teachers is often more formal and detailed than what a parent would convey. There is a serious need for research to find out what teachers could be doing wrong, or what they could be doing a better job of, in creating people who can concentrate or who can treat others with respect, even when their is some kind of financial or other dispute. At the same time, executives and company managers should not always be so willing to bend over backwards to kowtow to someone who is being very unreasonable or inappropriately rude or aggressive toward employees who may be doing the best they can to serve the customer. Polticians who oversee health insurers don't have the knowledge to understand that doctors sometimes have to be able to take the time to listen to a patient who may be having troubling symptoms, or even someone who needs some kind of guidance due to poverty or family breakdown. Physicians are not social service providers, but they could do more to advocate for better services for children, adults, and seniors who face different kinds of difficulities than might affect their health. Research has shown that people who are socially isolated have a lower life expectancy than do people who have social connections. America is very good at isolating people and even trying to destroy them through exclusion. Students may benefit from having some kind of internship experience before leaving high school A recent legal controversy on the college level involves unpaid, volunteer interships at corporations. A non-profit organization may take volunteers as a matter of course, and society seems to except this as being part of the Judeo-Christian ethic. Being a volunteer in a manufacturing company or accounting or law firm is being viewed to an increasing extent as being exploitational and in a sense, discriminatory on the basis that the intern is a student. Many high school students have after-school jobs for which they are paid.

There are many issues that require attention in education. Not many people have the social science backround to at least understand the many ramifications that are involved.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

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